I wrote this post 2 months ago but never got around to posting it. I intended for it to be longer but I guess it’s just good to get it out the door before I forget about it.


 

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long long time, ever since I graduated. But life gets in the way (and I love procrastinating…)

It only recently struck me that my uni life is officially over, and that I don’t actually have anymore school to attend for the rest of my life (save post-grad studies but that’s completely up in the air). The end of 25 years of formal education was… highly underwhelming. My grades were already fixed so I didn’t bother too much about my studies during the last sem, and my last finals were just kinda chill. I’d have expected the end of uni to feel a little more “grandiose” (naïve I know), but it just kind of simmered and died at the end.
Still, the end of my life at NUS opens a whole host of uncertainties and challenges. Who knows what’s next, I don’t have a job yet and a HTC Vive to mess around with. Wonder what I’ll be up to a year from now (or even a month from now).

I don’t actually know what I want to write about in this post. I suspect it’s going to be a long, rambling piece by the end of it. All I know is I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3 days ago, and I feel like I need to write something about it considering the impact it’s had on me over the past couple of days. Perhaps I’ll write something more coherent that’s actually worth sharing in a couple of days.

For starters, I loved it. Through and through. It’s flawed, no doubt, with a couple of plot holes and contrivances here and there, and the amount of fan service stuffed into this movie is almost overwhelming. From a film-making perspective, it’s not exactly a perfect film.

From a fan’s perspective, it’s almost perfect.

I had sat down in the movie theatre expecting the sequel to be a continuation of the story, with a whole new story and cast of characters. The moment I saw that the Starkiller base was literally just a bigger Death Star, I sort of grinned to myself and realised the direction they had decided to take this new movie in: back to its roots. I can understand how some people  might be disappointed by that, but the movie was just too much fun for that to be a downer in my opinion.

I won’t bother talking much else about the plot, I’m sure I’m going to be re-watching this a ton of times. I’ll just forever remember getting goosebumps in that split moment before STAR WARS title card appeared on screen and eagerly reading every line in the text crawl. When the movie ended and the credits rolled, I just sat there for very long being all still and feeling strangely numb. It was a very weird feeling, strangely pleasant but still weird. I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same way about any other movie.

The gripe I had with the movie is (amazingly) the lack of politics. I was fine with the entire movie being an homage to ANH, but I desperately wanted to know what had gone on since the end of ROTJ in terms of “galactic order”. I had expected Leia to be a political leader in the new republic that would form, and I was so confused to learn that there was a new organisation known as the “Resistance”. Hadn’t they already toppled the Galactic Empire from ROTJ? What were they still “resisting” against?! I found it sorely lacking that that aspect of the film was never explained, but it didn’t ruin too much. Thankfully the Visual Dictionary had an excerpt that explains it. Still wish there had been like a 2 minute scene in the film that at least touched upon this.

Blogging

The Internet sure is a finicky thing. Trends come and go faster than in any other medium, with “experts” and “analysts” constantly struggling to keep on top of things. There are always a few behemoths that linger around regardless whatever else goes on online. Sites like Facebook and Youtube aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Sure, they might eventually fall from stardom, but such features have become integral parts of the Web, and new sites will probably sprout up to fill the vacuum. These trends will probably exist in one form or another for a long time to come.

Blogging used to be one of these behemoths, and was something that I never thought would go away. In recent times though, it seems like personal blogs have receded into the background, crushed under the massive weight of modern social media and 140-character posts. I was searching for a new theme for my blog, when I discovered that most of the popular WordPress themes were meant for magazine-style blogs, with very few simple ones designed for a long series of posts. That was when it dawned on me that personal blogs have gone the way of the dinosaur.

A diary of sorts

It was the “in” thing to have a blog back when I was a teen. Everyone was always busy updating their blogs with what went on in their lives, messing around with blog themes to personalise their Blogspot site, making sure to leave a chatbox in the sidebar for friends to leave messages, etc. Blogging was basically social media, long before “social media” was even a thing.

Want to know what your friends were up to? Don’t bother with Friendster or MySpace, just check their blog.

This is probably what’s most interesting to me about the death of personal blogs: the fact that social media sites and blogging used to co-exist. Friendster and MySpace offered very similar features to Facebook, yet they were only updated with fleeting bits of information (just as they were meant for). Most important updates were reserved for the blog – chronicles of daily events, pictures, thoughts … anything! Your Friendster profile meant very little, your blog is where people went to in order to find out more about you.

Where’s the personality?

Obviously, all that has changed. People’s entire lives are now documented on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Instead of one moderately long blog post every few days, multiple short snippets of posts every single day now represent an individual’s social life online. There’s nothing inherently wrong with posting more “condensed” updates in the modern social media landscape (though there are arguments to be made for long form prose), but the presentation of these posts is what bugs me at times.

Instead of having one page dedicated entirely to you, your Twitter posts simply appear on a Timeline along with the dozens (if not hundreds) of other people that your friends follow. Your update is just one of a dozen other updates your friends scroll through. When there are so many updates to get through, each individual one has much less weight to them.

Not to mention everyone’s Facebook Wall looks the same now. Gone are the days when otakus could have gigantic Naruto pictures plastered all over their blog’s background, or girls could have little animated rabbits hop around their site if they so pleased. Now, everyone has one profile picture, one cover picture, and that’s about it. Apart from the contents of your posts, there’s nothing to set yourself apart from others on your Facebook Wall. There’s just no personality in these pages.

Giving your blog URL to a friend was synonymous with handing them your diary, it felt much more personal, much more private, as if you were letting them have a peek into your life. Every single part of that page could be designed as you so pleased, and we’d all agonise for hours just to get our blog’s design perfect, so that it’d scream “This is me!”

Depth

We’ve lost that in the modern social media landscape. Short, structured, to-the-point is the name of the game. Long form writing in social media has all but ceased to exist. Facebook does support “Notes”, but they’re hardly ever used. When there are so many updates on the News Feed from so many different people, who has time to stop and read a long, thoughtful post?

Personal blogs used to be a mixture of light-hearted and serious content. They were used for snippets of updates, as well as more in-depth thoughts. When all the popular social media sites of today encourage only short status updates, there’s no longer a space for longer, more thoughtful posts. That’s highly unfortunate, because throughout the course of the day, our minds often wander and stumble upon thought provoking sentiments. Instead of having an avenue to easily share these thoughts, we often simply end up discarding them, because it’d be too “troublesome” to share it on Facebook or too difficult squeeze it into 140 characters on Twitter. As much as a picture speaks a thousand words, some thoughts simply need to be written in prose and can’t be shared on Instagram.

That’s not to say that there are no personal blogs anymore, but those that remain are usually meant for the public consumption, oftentimes authored by professionals who run a blog on the side (e.g. Daring Fireball). As for blogs run by individuals, meant to be shared among friends and family, those seem to be a thing of the past.

That’s why I think sites like Medium are so important (I swear this isn’t sponsored by them or anything). It’s a place where thoughts and opinions can be shared and appreciated by a community. Unfortunately its “medium” length content doesn’t fit well into the rapid “social media cycle” that thrives on quick updates. It still remains to be seen if Medium can truly take off, with people being wiling to spend more time exploring prose instead of status updates.

Until then, here’s to the blog. You had a good run. I hope to see you again soon.

Well no, not really back to writing yet. But this post is just here as a commitment that I’ll start writing again. I’ve put this off for far too long, it’s high time I actually got something up on this blog that I’ve wasted hundreds of dollars over the years keeping online (even though nobody reads it).

This is it though, the hiatus ends.

Where does time go… and why do I never feel like writing anymore. I kind of always prided myself on being a pretty decent writer (for non-professional purposes at least), but my lack of practice is definitely showing. Words aren’t flowing as easily as they once were, and my grammar falters occasionally as well. I HAVE to change that this year, especially considering how the upcoming semesters should be slightly easier with 1 less module each semester. Speaking of which, one other deep regret I have regarding my lack of blogging is that I’ll have very little record of what my university life was like when I look back at this (bare) website years down the road. I can’t believe I only have about 1.5 years left of schooling before I enter the horrid world of 9-5 work (though in 2015 it’s more like 9am – 10pm). Time to cherish these last few moments (that I’m sure will fly by in absolutely no time) and hopefully keep a slightly more detailed record of these last 3 semesters.

That being said, 2015 is here, and it feels very similar to 2014. Looking back at my 2014 resolutions:

 

  • Read even more
    • I think I read kind of moderately this year. I actually got a bit more into comics (thanks to my DeNA Internship where I worked on a Marvel mobile game) which is actually kind of awesome. Comics are something I’ve always wanted to get into but never had the motivation nor means to. Grabbed a whole bunch of comics at a PI warehouse sale a few months back as well (that I haven’t finished). Still, need to get back to reading some novels (and I’ve taken a liking to biographies too recently. The Steve Jobs biography (that I’ve read like 3 times by now) is really good. We’ll see how my reading habits grow in 2015.
  • Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Aiming to have at least a post a month here. I’ve slacked off for way too long.
    • Obviously failed at this one. I was about to set myself a goal of 1 post every 2 weeks for 2015, before I realised I actually had an even more lenient goal for 2014 and failed it miserably… Regardless, 1 post fornightly it is!
  • Improve at pool. Consistently. I want to be able to run out almost any open table by the end of the year.
    • Kind of did pretty decent at this, though anytime I take a couple weeks break I lose it all again. At my best I was probably running open tables the majority of the time (Broke clear at SUNIG this year in doubles with Ziyi! Break clear in doubles at SUNIG are literally unheard of…). Currently, I can barely pot easy shots… Time to get back into form when the semester begins (and stop losing to the dev. team guys).
  • Exercise. I can’t believe how pale I’m getting, kind of disgusting…
    • I have accepted my paleness in all its glory and am going to dedicate these last 1.5 years to gaming mainly, especially now that I realise how little time I’ll have to have full gaming marathons in the future once I start work.
  • Code. No seriously I really gotta start coding if I want to actually have a shot at getting an internship.
    • Really really lucky to get the internship at DeNA. Never thought I’d get to do game design within my undergrad years. Best of all, no coding 😀 Still, I definitely gained a lot of knowledge this year, especially with my CS2103T project and my big Media Tech project (which I’ll be carrying on in the upcoming semester). Suffered a lot, learned a lot. Pretty good year for Comp. Sci. related stuff actually.
  • Learn stuff. I don’t know if it’s because I recently started watching a bit of Jeopardy, but I really have lost touch with current affairs and my general knowledge isn’t what it used to be (relatively speaking). This resolution is kind of weird, but I just hope to actually learn some meaningful stuff this year.
    • Lol no idea what I was thinking when I wrote this down. Seriously past me, you dumb idiot, wtf was this supposed to even mean?
  • Study Study Study.

    • Yeah did well enough so I don’t really have to bother about my studies too much for my remaining semesters. Definitely can’t get it up to the next class of honours (or whatever NUS is deciding to call it nowadays), so slacking from now onwards it is!
  • As always, be nicer to Char. 5.5 years in a couple day’s time. <3

Don’t really know what to do for 2015, I’m gonna come up with some list for the sake of it i guess:

  • Expose myself to more books, games, movies, TV shows, music this year
    • Like I said, last 1.5 years of free time. I’m going to enjoy as much stuff as I can in what time I have left. (I realise I make work life sound like the end of my life, but in a certain sense it probably is). Recently got Spotify premium as well, which is really awesome by the way.
  • Like I said, blog fortnightly
    • I highly doubt I’ll manage to maintain this rate of writing, but I’ll try I guess.
  • Improve at everything I do
    • Be it pool, Counter Strike, Dota, whatever. Get good at it. Last 1.5 years where I’ll have the time to practice all these things. Better make good use of it.

I’m racking my brains here but for some reason I honestly can’t come up with much else I’d like to wish for in 2015. 2014 was a pretty good year all things considered. Got an internship, uni results were pretty decent, had lots of fun with my new gaming laptop. Guess I’ll update this post if I come up with anything else soon.

Here’s to another good year.

So it’s high time I got around to doing this, actually blogging on this shell of a blog for once. I’ve been doing this for a the past few years and I really should keep this up else nothing will ever get posted here. I’m talking about new year resolutions of course.

Surprisingly I actually accomplished more than I expected. I totally forgot about this list after I posted it last year but I seem to have somewhat kept to it.

Resolutions for 2013

  1. Read more, really want to keep reading more – Definitely started reading more from the summer break onwards. Really should finish the Animorphs series soon, been a real nostalgia trip trying to finish the whole series now. Haven’t quite read as much as I would have liked, but close enough.
  2. Write more, I want to stop letting this blog rot away – Definitely failed miserably at this. I had a grand total of ONE post the entire 2013. It’s amazing how difficult it is to actually start writing even when I feel like it.
  3. Exercise. Feels good to start playing basketball again after two whole years of not touching it – Kind of failed at this one as well. Did alright during the first half of the year but then just kind of fell off…
  4. Keep studying hard. I really am a changed man since uni began, I’m actually paying attention. Wonder how long I can keep it up  – Didn’t do as well this semester, but I don’t really regret the amount of effort I put in. I did what I could, just hope I can somehow pull it up again during the coming semesters.
  5. PLAY MORE GAMES. I can’t believe I’m spending so little time playing games nowadays till the point where I actually have to put this in my new year’s resolutions – Might have overdone it on this one. I actually started playing Dota again, something I never ever imagined myself getting back into. It’s been nice to start playing games again, no idea how I got off it in the first place, but I got to keep it under control still.
  6. Get an internship? – Don’t even get me started on this one. Every single internship requires prior experience, which is kind of hard to get if I haven’t had an internship before. Of course, you’re expected to be a code junkie and have googled everything before and coded webpages and iPhone apps and everything prior to even thinking about getting an internship. The one internship I could apply for that didn’t have such stringent requirements ended up netting me an interview at Sommerset 313… at Toast Box in the middle of the food court. And even then the guy STILL expected me to have experience, he just didn’t list it in the requirements, and he expected me to work for free. If internships in tech are this hard to get, I’m dreading trying to find a job in the future…
  7. Code an actual program for once? – Nope, didn’t do this either, though I did start reading up and watching a ton of game development tutorials. Despite thinking that I would only play games and never develop them, it’s almost starting to look like that’s what I might end up doing anyway…
  8. Be nicer to Char. 4.5 years and still going <3 – 5.5 now :)

Now on to this year I guess:

Resolutions for 2014

  1. Read even more.
  2. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. Aiming to have at least a post a month here. I’ve slacked off for way too long.
  3. Improve at pool. Consistently. I want to be able to run out almost any open table by the end of the year.
  4. Exercise. I can’t believe how pale I’m getting, kind of disgusting…
  5. Code. No seriously I really gotta start coding if I want to actually have a shot at getting an internship.
  6. Learn stuff. I don’t know if it’s because I recently started watching a bit of Jeopardy, but I really have lost touch with current affairs and my general knowledge isn’t what it used to be (relatively speaking). This resolution is kind of weird, but I just hope to actually learn some meaningful stuff this year.
  7. Study Study Study.
  8. As always, be nicer to Char. 5.5 years in a couple day’s time. <3

Looking back, it seems like I’ve finally given up on the piano. It’s just too time consuming and especially since I started staying in school I rarely have access to one anyway. Maybe I’ll pick it up again in a couple of years. We’ll see.

I guess I kind of “wasted” 2013 away. Nothing too memorable or noteworthy. Here’s to a better 2014.

So I’ve always had this habit of writing one of these New Year’s Resolutions posts at the start of each year… except this time this post has come almost 2 months late. I’ve been really hesitant about keeping this blog going, considering how I barely even use it. But yet I just can’t bear to let it go. I already regret letting my previous domain go, so I guess I’ll just keep sticking with this one.

So this was last year’s list:

Resolutions for 2012

  1. Read more – eh… did that, kind of…
  2. Play the piano more – nope… I think I’ve pretty much given up on this one.
  3. Write more – definitely didn’t do this.
  4. Get off the computer more (my poor eyes) – nope.
  5. Excercise. Excercise. Excercise. – definitely did this more… at least when school started. But of course I wasn’t exercising at all previously so even the little bit of basketball I played is considered as having exercised “more”.
  6. Get a job before uni starts – worked at SOTA! At least I fulfilled one of my resolutions.
  7. Do some coding for fun – Kind of did this… but gave up real quick.
  8. Complete NaNoWriMo for the first time ever – I realised that I won’t be able to do NaNoWriMo for the next couple of years because it’s way too close to finals
  9. And finally, because she’ll kill me if I don’t put this on here, be even nicer to Charlotte. – Kind of did?

Seeing as how I barely managed anything from my list last year, I think I’ll have to come up with a more feasible list this year…

Resolutions for 2013

  1. Read more, really want to keep reading more.
  2. Write more, I want to stop letting this blog rot away
  3. Exercise. Feels good to start playing basketball again after two whole years of not touching it.
  4. Keep studying hard. I really am a changed man since uni began, I’m actually paying attention. Wonder how long I can keep it up.
  5. PLAY MORE GAMES. I can’t believe I’m spending so little time playing games nowadays till the point where I actually have to put this in my new year’s resolutions.
  6. Get an internship?
  7. Code an actual program for once?
  8. Be nicer to Char. 4.5 years and still going <3

Well I can’t think of anything else for now. This should be quite a relaxed recess week seeing as how I only have two mid-terms and just two “essays” to write over the week. Hope this sem goes just as smoothly as the last one did.

Ok I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last blogged. 5 months in fact. So much stuff has happened in my life and I never noted down a single thing. It was only this past week when I was forced fork out 60 bucks just to renew this server and domain for another year did I realise that I really should make better use of this site. I guess I wanted this blog to be full of “thoughtful” posts and musings rather than being treated as a diary, but that’s just stupid. (Also I’m usually really lazy to write “what-happened-today” kind of posts)

NUS

University started. It feels kind of weird to think of myself as being a Uni student now. University has always been this murky unknown, unlike every other prior phase of my education. 6 years of primary school, 4 years of secondary school, 2 years of JC, 2 years of army… then what? Suddenly there’s no structure to it anymore. Heck there’s more structure in the working world than in uni. With an office job, you wake up at 7, go through a boring day till you reach home at 7 (if you’re lucky) and spend a few hours doing what you want, go to sleep, then rinse and repeat. That’s a typical working day.

There’s no such thing as a typical day at uni. Your timetable’s different everyday, your schedule is different from one week to the next, you have CCAs, you study different things every 6 months, etc. There’s just so much change, all the time… which is precisely what makes university life so damn fun.

For the record working life is way easier than studying for a degree. But studying for a degree is insanely more fun than working. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t slogged it out in an office for a couple of years will understand this. You do have less things to do at an office job, and you don’t have homework or exams. But the same damn schedule and tasks that repeat themselves all the time make working life a chore. Studying is way harder, and way more effort is required. But the constant change in your life (something that students take for granted) just makes it all worthwhile.

Not to mention you actually have friends instead of colleagues. I remember the first time I asked my parents what the word “colleague” meant and they told me it’s what you call people you work with, I immediately wondered why they didn’t just use the word “friends”. I mean, everyone in my class was my “friend”. We’re just all friends aren’t we?

Studying in NUS also meant that I got to move into Tembusu College at UTown. For the first time in my life, I had a room to myself. I could come and go as I please. The freedom of having your own place 5/7 days a week is just absolutely AWESOME. I could sleep whenever I wanted to, study when I wanted to, where I wanted to, etc. It’s a breath of fresh air really. Having to do your own laundry and stuff like that is a really small price to play. Not to mention UTown is a really nice environment to live in. Not to mention there’s an entire complex opening up next January. Can’t wait to get back there in a few weeks.

Studying is also actually pretty fun and not THAT hard. At least not in my first semester. I mean it’s way tougher than anything I’d ever done before, but after watching Char put in so much effort and still struggle for two whole years made me prepared for what was to come. For the first time in my life, I’m actually paying attention in class (well, mostly…). I’ve actually paid FULL attention to a few two hour lectures this sem, something that was previously unthinkable. The exams are hard no doubt, but there’s always the bell curve to the rescue. At least now when I make careless mistakes in math it all evens out because everyone else makes careless mistakes as well (hopefully :P). Getting the results in about 4 days, quite hopeful 😀

Pool… again!

The holidays thus far have been used for almost nothing but catching up on all the games I’ve missed out on, and pool training. First time in my life I’m actually seriously training at pool. It also just struck me recently that the last time I played snooker seriously was 5 years ago back in secondary school. I never realised how much time had passed since that period of my life. I never treated pool seriously, always felt it was just too easy to bother putting effort into. I remember when I would switch over to a pool table for awhile after playing for hours on a snooker table, suddenly every single ball seemed so damn easy to pot. Almost every single shot on a pool table was unmissable as long as it was a remotely reasonable shot. I could run a game of 8 ball in one visit to the table without controlling the cue ball at all, because regardless of what ridiculous shot I left myself with I’d just pot it. 9-ball was way harder of course, but I always felt that snooker was a more worthy investment of my time.

Gone are those days of course, for now I struggle with even some of the simpler shots on a pool table. 5 years of not playing really does take its toll. Of course, now that I’m actually putting in the effort to train, pool isn’t as easy as it seemed. Well 9-ball at least. It’s just quite annoying that I have to take the time to get my accuracy back, and makes me really wish I had never stopped playing snooker. But then again 5 years ago I never considered the possibility that I might end up getting a chance to represent NUS at pool. That being said, I do hope I get into the school team eventually, it’s still too early to tell and I have no idea what my chances are. Though I have to say that putting in so much effort and not getting a chance to represent the school would be quite disappointing.

Well I think this has been a sufficiently long and rambling post, so it’s time for it to end. Off to watch more of the Mosconi Cup!

Ok honestly, I’ve been meaning to write this post for months. At the end of the first week I was thinking to myself “I think I should blog about my first impressions of being a teacher”. But I just kept procrastinating to no end. 

Considering how today was my last day teaching lower-sec math at SOTA, coupled with the fact that I love typing on my brand new MBA (it literally just arrived this evening), I think it’d be appropriate that I dump all my thoughts about being a teacher into one giant blog post.

No…

First off, teaching’s not for me. It’s not the actual teaching that’s difficult. The actual teaching is pretty fun actually, and really quite satisfying when you see the kids get what you’re trying to say. But of course, that satisfaction relies on the fact that they’re actually listening to you in the first place. Only now do I understand the frustration of talking to a huge group of people and have next to none of them be interested in what you’re saying.

And yet that’s not even the biggest issue I have with being a teacher. All you have to do to deal with noisy kids is to just scream and shout at them a couple of times, give them the silent treatment a couple of times, and that’s that. Unfortunately I started off being quite lenient with them, taking the whole “I can’t be bothered with you if you don’t want to listen, your choice” approach. So I really could’t summon the strength to change into super-strict-annoying-shouty teacher near the end when they started climbing over my head.

Anyway, as I was saying (told you this was going to be a long post), the biggest issue isn’t controlling kids. It’s all the stuff you have to do OUTSIDE of the lessons themselves. There are a million little small things teachers have to remember. I need to print 2 extra worksheets for this class and 3 extra for this other class. This class is sitting for this test on Monday but the other one’s only taking it on Thursday. I stopped at this point in the notes for this class, but this one outside of the other class. Oh yeah and I got to attend meetings, reply emails, create notes, set a paper. The list goes on and on and on. And I was just a relief teacher. I have no idea what it’s like for normal teachers.

For two years in NS, I had to remember a few major issues, not a million tiny ones.

Of course, for most teachers, I guess the satisfaction of actually teaching students makes up for all the other random stuff they need to settle. As I mentioned earlier, it definitely is immensely satisfying when you see the light bulb flick on in kid’s head. I guess it’s just that such flicking of light bulbs didn’t happen that often enough to warrant all the other stuff in my case.

It could have been worse…

But of course there are plenty of jobs out there worse than being a teacher. The great thing about teaching is the ever-changing schedule. Every single day is different from the last, which is a breath of fresh air from sitting in front of a computer from 8 to 5.30 and then going home. You’re moving about constantly, doing different things everyday (some days it’s marking, some days it’s mostly lesson preps, etc.). All of this just serves to ensure each day is anything but monotonous.

It’s not easy!

I never realised how much time and effort went into planning lessons for kids. I mean the depth to which teachers go to figure out the most appropriate questions that should be set. It’s not as simple as figuring out what skills are tested for each question, but also trying to figure out how in the world the kids will attempt to tackle the question. Teachers spend a considerable amount of time simply trying to piece together a student’s (ridiculous) train of thought when confronted with any particular question.

Even after so much effort is put in to ensure that students will be able to understand and learn from certain questions, that ultimately doesn’t always end up happening. It must get really annoying after awhile…

About SOTA itself

I have to say, teaching at SOTA is most certainly an experience that I wouldn’t have gotten if I taught at a mainstream school. I got my own cubicle (for once), my own laptop (an old white Macbook), and as long as I didn’t have lessons (and other work of course) I was pretty much left to my own devices. It definitely is convenient and awesome to work right next to shopping centres and an MRT station.

The school is really nice… I mean REALLY nice. Lots of open spaces for these artsy kids to do their artsy stuff, clean classrooms (mostly), and the view from the rooftop is absolutely stunning. Art pieces made by students litter the hallways. It’s kind of insane to think that this 10 story building right smack in the middle of Dhoby Ghaut is actually a school. No wonder it costs $350 a month just to study there.

All in all…

Teaching quadratic equations and linear graphs all over again was pretty fun. I was surprised by how much I still remembered despite not touching any math in years. On the whole it was quite an enjoyable experience, and I’m glad I did a short stint of teaching before university begins. Unfortunately instead of lording over kids while they rack their brains over exam papers I now consider to be simple, I’ll be the one taking exams in just a few months…

NUS, here I come.

P.S. this has got to be the most stereotypical blog post I’ve done in a long long time.

So, #stopkony is trending everywhere, with people spreading around that 30 minute long video put out by an American NGO about a horrible warlord in Uganda that’s slaughtering people, causing misery, kidnapping children, etc. It’s a horrible situation, no doubt, and yes he should be stopped. But seriously, clicking “Like” and “Share” isn’t doing a single thing to help him.

Simply being aware doesn’t solve the problem

First off, even the NGO themselves stated that the goal was to pressure the US government into dumping resources into helping to stop this evil-doer. Yes, spreading awareness is the first step to getting policy-makers to listen up, but the ultimate goal is to effect changes in policy, not just spread awareness. It’s pretty annoying when people think they’re suddenly humanitarians just because they shared a video with tons of people and that they’re actually helping to alleviate the situation over there. No, you’re not. Spreading awareness is just a stepping stone to your final goal of stopping this madman. If you don’t take the extra step to contact policy makers or donate money or something, you’re not helping that much. For sure, you’re helping to spread awareness about the issue, but that’s it. You’re not stopping the guy.

Saying that “spreading awareness” causes Kony to stop his violent actions is like saying buying home bread and ham will cause a sandwich to make itself.

Awareness is necessary, no doubt

Don’t get me wrong, having awareness of what’s going on in the world is definitely a really great thing. But it’s just like how everyone is aware that millions of kids in Africa are starving, dying of illnesses that are easily treatable in more developed countries. We’re aware of them for sure, and we certainly do feel sorry for their plight, but we don’t think we’re actually doing anything to help them simply by being aware and being sorry for them. If we spread an image of a starving African kid on Facebook, we don’t think we’re actually helping that kid get food do we?

But when it’s an organised campaign by a NGO, we feel like we’re part of this cause just because we “Share” their Youtube video, we feel like humanitarians. But in all honesty, we really aren’t.

So yes, thank you for letting me know this situation is happening, but don’t delude yourself into thinking you’re actually stopping Kony simply by “Liking” the video.

Not to mention we’re a country of just 5 million people

So, now that we’ve established that getting the attention of policy makers is the only way we can actively help alleviate the situation, let’s discuss if us Singaporeans can actually do anything. Can anybody really envision a Singaporean calling up their MP’s office, asking them if our government is going to do anything about Kony? Is anybody really going to attend the next Meet the MP session to express concern about the situation in Uganda (even though he’s probably not even in Uganda anymore, more on that later)? Maybe a few might? But not many.

The fact is that we’re a tiny country that doesn’t have much resources to begin with. We have plenty of problems to deal with here in our own country. We have very little say in the international stage when it comes to situations like these. Honestly it’s pretty damn unlikely our government is going to actively do anything about Kony, and rightfully so.

Money money money

There is one way individual Singaporeans can help of course, and that’s to donate to the NGO who put out that video, Invisible Children, and hope that your funds do make a difference in stopping Kony through the actions of this organisation. If you do donate, more power to you, it’s great that you’re helping with money. Just know that this NGO doesn’t actually spend that much on actual aid to begin with (just 32% actually). They’re much more focused on spreading awareness. A really large part of their funds goes to stuff like filmmaking and travelling expenses, because the goal of this particular NGO is more to raise awareness rather than actually provide aid. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, you need some organisations to be focused on spreading awareness.

Not to mention it’d be pretty ridiculous to think that a NGO would just take the funds and hire some kind of private military to take down Kony, seeing as how that’s really the only way to actively bring him to justice.

Get your facts straight

Please know that all NGOs, despite their desire to do good in this world, will all at the end of the day have some form of agenda. It’s the reason why so many activist groups target Apple when it comes to working conditions in Foxconn factories in China, even though dozens of other big tech companies use Foxconn as well, and many other factories in China have even worse conditions. No, they target Apple because they’re the biggest target out there by far, everyone relates to them because so many people have an iPhone.

Now, I don’t know what agenda Invisible Children has at all, maybe they don’t have any, but then it begs the question as to why most of their video was pretty factually inaccurate to begin with. After getting all riled up about the video, it’ll come as quite a bummer that most of it is pretty factually inaccurate to begin with. There are many reports that Kony hasn’t even been in Uganda for about 6 years, and that this army of his that supposedly numbers in the tens of thousands probably only numbers in the hundreds now.

To quote Ugandan journalist Angelo Izama:

“To call the campaign a misrepresentation is an understatement. While it draws attention to the fact that Kony, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in 2005, is still on the loose, its portrayal of his alleged crimes in Northern Uganda are from a bygone era. At the height of the war between especially 1999 and 2004, large hordes of children took refuge on the streets of Gulu town to escape the horrors of abduction and brutal conscription to the ranks of the LRA. Today most of these children are semi-adults. Many are still on the streets unemployed. Gulu has the highest numbers of child prostitutes in Uganda. It also has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis.

If six years ago children in Uganda would have feared the hell of being part of the LRA, a well documented reality already, today the real invisible children are those suffering from “Nodding Disease”. Over 4000 children are victims of this incurable debilitating condition. It’s a neurological disease that has baffled world scientists and attacks mainly children from the most war affected districts of Kitgum, Pader and Gulu.”

Full article here.

So basically everyone got all riled up and spammed that “Share” button for something that ended 6 years ago… Oh well…